By Mark Lamport-Stokes
PACIFIC PALISADES, California (Reuters) - Moments after winning his ninth PGA Tour title at the Northern Trust Open on Sunday, Bubba Watson reflected on the work he still needs to do to improve his mental approach to the game.
One of golf's most intriguing characters, the American left-hander is best known for his power hitting and extraordinary shot-making, and also a tendency to allow his mind to wander while he is out on the course or speaking to the media.
Earlier this month, Watson was left seething with frustration when negative comments he made about the venue for the Phoenix Open were twisted into criticism of the community there in Arizona, where he had previously lived.
Still stung by what happened in Phoenix where he was booed and heckled by spectators in the second round, Watson referred to the experience unprompted more than once during a lengthy news conference after his victory at Riviera, a result that lifted him to fourth in the world rankings.
"I'm not over it," twice Masters champion Watson told reporters. "It's heartbreaking that a city or community or local press would put (out) a headline to spur on a bad image, so it's hurtful.
"I've got to figure out how to answer things better, all the stuff going on in my head that we've been working on in the last 11 years of PGA Tour life. I've made the right steps, but the bad stuff is going to pop out every once in a while."
During the build-up to the Phoenix Open, Watson was asked by reporters why he liked the hosting TPC Scottsdale layout where he had been a runner-up for the previous two years.
He swiftly replied: "I don't like it. I'm not going to PC it. I don't like it at all."
After being heckled during the second round as a result of an adverse local newspaper article, Watson clarified his position, saying: "It was about the golf course. I'm not a fan of the golf course.
"I'm here because of the excitement. How would you not be here to support the tournament that brings out the most people?"
At Riviera on Sunday, Watson went on to say: "Phoenix, it was a bad headline that said I didn't like the community, I didn't like the golf tournament, which was a lie.
"I've lived there for the last eight winters, I love Scottsdale, I love Phoenix. Bad press, and I still finished 14th."
(Editing by Andrew Both)